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Monday, December 3, 2012

Saying no to things you want

I feel like there's such a big push in the vegan community to portray veganism as not involving any personal sacrifice. Maybe that's true for a lot of people, and personally I don't miss dairy or meat in the slightest at this point. I do, however, routinely have to consciously say no to *things* that I want. To be fair, it's not really much of a sacrifice to not be able to buy every pair of shoes I have my eye on, but it does mean actively passing on things I would otherwise really want. So I just wanted to address my purchasing ethics on the blog.
I want these!
But they are leather, so I'm passing on them. 

I won't buy anything that's leather, fur, wool, down, or silk. If you're curious about why each of those specific items are unfortunate from an animal welfare perspective, check out the links. Silk I think mainly bothers me due to the sheer number of silkworms killed for each unit of silk. Anyway, it never crosses my mind to buy anything made of fur, but the use of leather for shoes is so widespread that there's inevitably going to be some shoe I see in a magazine or a blog that I just love but that isn't available in a non-leather version. Same goes for wool-blend coats and sweaters.

So yes, being vegan does mean I make sartorial sacrifices. Thankfully, the options have gotten a lot better. The Vaute Couture coats are nice and the shoe and bag options are getting pretty good. So again, not a significant sacrifice by any means, but I've chosen not to buy probably hundreds of items at this point because they were made of animal products. Cosmetics too. I make a point to avoid lanolin for example.

Is it worth it? I think it definitely is. Sure, I'll miss out on some material things I want, but I would feel really bad about my choices if I knew I contributed to animal suffering just to indulge my sense of style. I think it ultimately boils down to this: if you had to choose between passing on a pair of shoes or killing a cow, which would you choose? Also, consider the price of the shoes relative to the life that was taken. If anything, I would pay someone $100 not to a kill an animal!

Sonny at Farm Sanctuary 
Still, it's not a black and white issue. Do you buy from companies that also sell leather items? Companies that sell fur? Companies that are owned by larger companies that test on animals? What about if they don't disclose all of the ingredients in their lipstick? What about vintage items?

Cute, and also non-leather!
You have to draw the line somewhere, and while there's a lot of finger wagging online as to what's appropriate and what isn't, I think it's ultimately a personal decision where you draw that line. It's impossible to live an entirely cruelty free life and still live in society at this point (which doesn't mean you give up on the idea! It just means you have to decide what items you personally feel comfortable with!). Plus, I think once you move beyond narrow definitions of labels I think there are a lot of diverging views about the use of bugs in cosmetics and food (fyi carmine comes from beetles).

Anyway, this is why I don't buy clothes or shoes that are made of animal products. I'm not quite as strict when it comes to cosmetics (although animal testing is clearly out). I also admit that I don't put a lot of thought into sweatshop related issues (although if anyone can recommend mainstream stores that have good labor practices then I'm all ears!)

I really encourage people to think about what they value and to decide if their purchasing habits are in line with those values. If not, what can you change to make a difference? It probably does involve giving up something small, but my personal experience (five years as a vegan and counting) has been that what you gain far offsets passing on the occasional pair of shoes.


9 comments:

  1. What a perfect post for me to read right this moment! I just watched a movie about being vegan and I am seriously contemplating it (I was a vegetarian for 2 years). Maybe you could do a post on how to start being vegan? I think that the hardest part for me wouldn't be the food, but all the everyday things like clothes and make-up.

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    1. That's a good idea! I'll try to write one up tomorrow. I feel like I have a good sense of the ins and outs of it by now.

      I think my biggest recommendation is just to invest in some good vegan cookbooks! I think my favorite is http://www.amazon.com/Appetite-Reduction-Filling-Low-Fat-Recipes/dp/1600940498 And then you really don't need to throw everything non-vegan out right away (unless you want to). Most people have a pretty long transition period where they are using up/wearing out their "pregan" shoes and cosmetics.

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  2. This is a great post! I actually have tried very hard to switch all my shampoos and soaps to animal free testing. I also will not buy from certain companies, such as P&G, because they do animal testing. I had a friend who adopted a cat that was a test subject there. I always say that every product you buy counts as a vote. For me, it all started with wanting to eat a plant based diet. I think once you start to open your eyes to how animals are treated and realize that as a human you DON'T have to eat them,....it just changes you all around. I can't even see or smell meat without getting sick to my stomach now. I think you are totally right about how it's up to each one of us (vegan or not) what we can and are willing to change in our lives. Every new decision that I make that helps saves animals or our planet makes me feel happier inside. :) I find it is a very rewarding lifestyle.

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    1. I think that's really the essence of it! When I really thought about the fact that I don't *need* to eat animals it just seemed like something I really needed to rethink.

      Voting with your dollar definitely counts a lot! It's just so hard to find companies that are really worth supporting now. I think the only item I've really struggled to find a replacement for is antiperspirant deodorant. I was using Mitchum since they are owned by Revlon, but then Revlon started testing so they could sell in China. But I haven't found an acceptable alternative yet either, so I'm sticking with it (at least they don't test domestically like L'Oreal!) until someone starts marketing a vegan one. I hear Tom's of Maine developed one, but they are owned by Colgate who does test so it doesn't seem like much of an improvement (although I do use other Tom's items...). It's tricky sometimes! But really, I think the main thing is to just be aware and do your best!

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    2. I actually use Tom's and didn't know they were owned by Colgate. :( I also bought some hair frizz stuff by L'Oreal BECAUSE it says NO ANIMAL TESTING ON IT. It's very frustrating to me how all the HUGE companies end up owning the small guys or already own them. I didn't know any of this, about Tom's or L'Oreal! It kinda leaves you feeling helpless. I don't give up the fight though. I will just keep changing products till I get it right!!! ;) Thanks for all the info. I'm not a "perfect" vegan, but I'm trying to make LOTS of changes in my life where I can.

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    3. It's almost getting harder instead of easier to figure it out what is OK with all the back sliding lately! Apparently L'Oreal changed their policy to sell in China http://www.examiner.com/article/vegetarian-lea-michele-under-fire-from-animal-rights-activists-for-l-oreal-deal

      I'm probably going to keep using Tom's toothpaste because it's the closest I can get at the regular store and I can't always special order toothpaste online! It's definitely not a matter of being perfect at this point!

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  3. very nice and comfortable wedge shoes! one greatest thing about wedges are that they are truly made for walking, unlike stilettos xo
    would you like to follow each other?
    A
    xx
    http://epiquemoi.blogspot.com

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  4. I love this post! I found your blog via your comment on My Mod Style's Gardein chicken strips. I love finding fellow vegans (and I see you are a book lover too- woot! woot!)I can't say I honestly ever felt like I was sacrificing anything by going vegan. I knew I was closing doors on certain things but the diet alone (not to mention all the new clothing options and other products that I got to learn about- free of animal testing) opened more doors to me, that I think that's why it never felt like a sacrifice to me. That doesn't mean it wasn't or that I didn't give up things but I never had a want or desire for them anymore, and thus didn't have to turn them down, because I viewed those animal products differently.

    Like you I don't buy anything made with animal products or tested on animals. If a company isn't clear about ingredients, animal testing, or the like I don't buy it. If I'm thrifting and looking for vintage items I don't want anything made of animals an always check the labels. However I completely understand vegans who do buy thrifted items that are made of animals because the item is used and your money is not going to increase the demand and thus kill more animals. Like you said, everyone has to draw the line somewhere and all of our lines are different. Heck some lines are solid, while others are dotted and a bit wavy. But once we pull out that finger and start pointing then we lose that connection over compassion with one another.

    I'm with you too on knowing what you value and following through on that, no matter how big or small. Especially where money is involved because it is the case that where we spend our money is more of a vote for what we want and demand than our actual vote is.

    Thanks for this post! Glad to have found ya!
    ~Aubrey
    Project Lovegood

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    1. Eating vegan definitely broadened my food horizons as well! I just to be a very conservative eater, now I like all kinds of things! Plus at this point I legitimately don't consider meat to be food, which pretty much by definition means it isn't a sacrifice anymore.

      Like I said in the post I'm a little bit more flexible about cosmetics, but I actually haven't "cheated" even once in five years when it comes to meat and dairy. I've just never wanted to! When I started out I think I was a lot more judgmental about it (like I think a lot of vegans are at first), now I try to step back a bit. I'm not going to convince anyone of my point to badgering them!

      I added your blog as well! Love that you reference Luna in your description!

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